Investigating the Impact of a Meaningful Gamification-Based Intervention on Novice Programmers’ Achievement

  • Jenilyn L. AgapitoEmail author
  • Ma. Mercedes T. Rodrigo
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10947)


Gamification is becoming a popular classroom intervention used in computer science instruction, including CS1, the first course computer science students take. It is being used as a medium to encourage certain student behaviors in anticipation of positive effects on learning experience and achievement. However, existing studies have mostly implemented reward-based game elements which have resulted to contrasting behaviors among students. Meaningful gamification, defined as the use of game design elements to encourage users build internal motivation to behave in a certain way, is contended to be a more effective approach. This concept is founded on the ‘Self-Determination Theory’, which states that there are three components associated with intrinsic motivation: mastery, autonomy, and relatedness. This study describes the analysis of data collected from an experiment where students of an introductory programming class used a system embedded with elements that map to the components of the Self-Determination Theory: feedback cycles, freedom to fail, and progress to support mastery; control to enable autonomy; and collaboration for relatedness. It looks into whether the experimental group performed significantly better than the control group. It also tries to explore how different user types respond to the different game design elements.


Novice programmers Gamification CS1 



We would like to thank the student participants who signified their voluntary participation in the study. We also like to thank the College of Information Technology, CBSUA-Sipocot, its Dean – Mr. Dennis Gabon, and the CS1 instructors for permitting us to collect data in their school. Much gratitude to the Department of Science and Technology–Engineering Research and Development for Technology (DOST-ERDT) for the scholarship awarded to the student researcher. Lastly, we thank the Ateneo Laboratory for the Learning Sciences (ALLS), Ateneo de Manila University for supporting this study.


  1. 1.
    Agapito, J.L., Rodrigo, M.M.T.: Investigating the impact of gamification on novice programmers’ achievement and learning experience. Submitted to Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning (RPTEL) (2018)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Beaubouef, T., Mason, J.: Why the high attrition rate for computer science students: some thoughts and observations. ACM SIGCSE Bull. 37(2), 103–106 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bennedsen, J., Caspersen, M.E.: Failure rates in introductory programming. ACM SIGCSE Bull. 39(2), 32–36 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Deci, E.L., Ryan, R.M.: Handbook of Self-determination Research. University Rochester Press, Rochester (2002)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dehnadi, S., Bornat, R.: The camel has two humps (working title), pp. 1–21. Middlesex University, UK (2006)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Deterding, S., Björk, S.L., Nacke, L.E., Dixon, D., Lawley, E.: Designing gamification: creating gameful and playful experiences. In: CHI 2013 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 3263–3266. ACM, April 2013Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., Nacke, L.: From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification. In: Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, pp. 9–15. ACM, September 2011Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    DomíNguez, A., Saenz-De-Navarrete, J., De-Marcos, L., FernáNdez-Sanz, L., PagéS, C., MartíNez-HerráIz, J.J.: Gamifying learning experiences: practical implications and outcomes. Comput. Educ. 63, 380–392 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gibbons, T.E.L COR: a new course framework based on elements of game design. In: Proceedings of the 14th Annual ACM SIGITE Conference on Information Technology Education, pp. 77–82. ACM, October 2013Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Glover, I.: Play as you learn: gamification as a technique for motivating learners (2013)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    González, C., Area, M.: Breaking the rules: gamification of learning and educational materials. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Interaction Design in Educational Environments, pp. 7–53 (2013)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Harrington, B.: TrAcademic: experiences with gamified practical sessions for a CS1 course. In: Proceedings of the 21st Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education, p. 25. ACM, May 2016Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hoda, R., Andreae, P.: It’s not them, it’s us! Why computer science fails to impress many first years. In: Proceedings of the Sixteenth Australasian Computing Education Conference, vol. 148, pp. 159–162. Australian Computer Society, Inc., January 2014Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ibáñez, M.B., Di-Serio, A., Delgado-Kloos, C.: Gamification for engaging computer science students in learning activities: a case study. IEEE Trans. Learn. Technol. 7(3), 291–301 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Jadud, M.C.: An exploration of novice compilation behaviour in BlueJ. University of Kent (2006)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jadud, M.C.: Methods and tools for exploring novice compilation behaviour. In: Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Computing Education Research, pp. 73–84. ACM, September 2006Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kapp, K.M.: Games, gamification, and the quest for learner engagement. T+ D 66(6), 64–68 (2012)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kim, S.: Effects of the gamified class in engineering education environments. J. Convergence Inf. Technol. 8(13), 253 (2013)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Klopfer, E., Osterweil, S., Groff, J., Haas, J.: Using the technology of today in the classroom today: the instructional power of digital games, social networking, simulations and how teachers can leverage them. Educ. Arcade 1, 20 (2009)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kumar, B., Khurana, P.: Gamification in education-learn computer programming with fun. Int. J. Comput. Distrib. Syst. 2(1), 46–53 (2012)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Marczewski, A.: User types. In: Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play: Gamification, Game Thinking and Motivational Design, 1st edn., pp. 65–80. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2015)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Neve, P., Livingstone, D., Hunter, G., Edwards, N., Alsop, G.: More than just a game: improving students’ experience of learning programming through gamification. In: STEM Annual Conference 2014 (2014)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nicholson, S.: Exploring gamification techniques for classroom management. Games+ Learning+ Society 9 (2013)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Nicholson, S.: A RECIPE for meaningful gamification. In: Reiners, T., Wood, Lincoln C. (eds.) Gamification in Education and Business, pp. 1–20. Springer, Cham (2015). Scholar
  25. 25.
    Orji, R., Mandryk, R.L., Vassileva, J., Gerling, K.M.: Tailoring persuasive health games to gamer type. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2467–2476. ACM, April 2013Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Paunonen, S.V., Ashton, M.C.: Big five factors and facets and the prediction of behavior. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 81(3), 524 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Pirker, J., Riffnaller-Schiefer, M., Gütl, C.: Motivational active learning: engaging university students in computer science education. In: Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, pp. 297–302. ACM, June 2014Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Robins, A.: Learning edge momentum: a new account of outcomes in CS1. Comput. Sci. Educ. 20(1), 37–71 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ross, P.: Math teacher uses gamification to help at-risk students succeed. Recuperado el 24 (2011)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Sprint, G., Cook, D.: Enhancing the CS1 student experience with gamification. In: 2015 IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC), pp. 94–99. IEEE, March 2015Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Watson, C., Li, F.W.: Failure rates in introductory programming revisited. In: Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, pp. 39–44. ACM, June 2014Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Wortman, D., Rheingans, P.: Visualizing trends in student performance across computer science courses. ACM SIGCSE Bull. 39(1), 430–434 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenilyn L. Agapito
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ma. Mercedes T. Rodrigo
    • 1
  1. 1.Ateneo de Manila UniversityQuezon CityPhilippines

Personalised recommendations